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Abraham Lincoln Suspends Habeas Corpus and Army Orders Officers to Resist Writs
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I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim...that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended throughout the United States....

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. Edwin M. Stanton, General Orders, No. 315, September 17, 1863, conveying President Lincoln’s Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus Throughout the United States, September 15, 1863. Printed Document. Proclamation signed in type by Abraham Lincoln and William H. Seward; Order signed in type by Assistant Adjutant General E. D. Townsend, by order of the Secretary of War. 2 pp., 5 x 7⅜ in.

Inventory #24901.01       Price: $375

Excerpts
The following Act of Congress, and Proclamation of the President, based upon the same, are published for the information of all concerned; and the special instructions hereafter contained for persons in the military service of the United States will be strictly observed:

Act, March 3, 1863
during the present rebellion, the President of the United States, whenever, in his judgment, the public safety may require it, is authorized to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any case throughout the United States, or any part thereof.

Proclamation, September 15, 1863
in the judgment of the President, the public safety does require that the privilege of the said writ shall now be suspended throughout the United States, in the cases where, by the authority of the President of the United States, military, naval, and civil officers of the United States, or any of them, hold persons under their command, or in their custody, either as prisoners of war, spies, or aiders or abettors of the enemy....

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim and make known to all whom it may concern that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, throughout the United States, in the several cases before mentioned, and that this suspension will continue throughout the duration of the said rebellion, or until this proclamation shall, by a subsequent one to be issued by the President of the United States, be modified or revoked.

General Orders, No. 315
If, therefore, a writ of habeas corpus should, in violation of the aforesaid Proclamation, be sued out and served upon any officer in the military service of the United States, commanding him to produce before any court or judge, any person in his custody by authority of the President of the United States, belonging to any one of the classes specified in the President’s Proclamation, it shall be the duty of such officer to make known by his certificate, under oath, to whomsoever may issue or serve such writ of habeas corpus, that the person named in the writ ‘is detained by him as a prisoner under authority of the President of the United States.’

if any person serving, or attempting to serve, such writ...shall attempt to arrest the officer making such return and holding in custody such person, the said officer is hereby commanded to refuse submission and obedience to such arrest, and if there should be any attempt to take such person from the custody of such officer, or arrest such officer, he shall resist such attempt, calling to his aid any force that may be necessary to maintain the authority of the United States, and render such resistance effectual.

Historical Background
The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was among the most controversial of Abraham Lincoln’s wartime actions. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was designed to prevent governments from imprisoning persons for political purposes rather than for crimes. A judge could normally issue a writ to a jailor or custodian of a person forcing the custodian to explain why and under what authority the prisoner was being held. If the custodian failed to present adequate answers, the judge could order the release of the prisoner.

In early March 1863, Congress passed a bill over intense Democratic opposition to allow the president to suspend the writ in situations he deemed necessary. On September 15, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln used this authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in any case involving prisoners of war, spies, traitors, or any member of the military. One of those arrested and tried by military tribunal during the operation of this proclamation was Lambdin P. Milligan in Indiana. After Milligan was convicted and sentenced to death, the United States Supreme Court held that the March 1863 Act authorized neither military tribunals nor the imposition of martial law.

Andrew Johnson partially lifted the suspension of habeas corpus with his Proclamation of December 1, 1865, leaving the suspension operative only in the former Confederate states, Kentucky, the District of Columbia, and the territories of New Mexico and Arizona. On April 2, 1866, President Johnson declared the war over in all former Confederate states except Texas, and on August 20, 1866, in Texas, so the law then became inoperative.


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